Let’s face it – living as a student can be tough. You are probably working a part-time job to pay for school, which means that you have to keep to a tight budget for other expenses.
By Ariel Gough
Even after graduation, you still have to be conscious of your spending habits in order to pay back student loans and balance the added costs of living in the real world. But, does life have to be so difficult?
Here are five struggles of living on a student budget and ways to get around them:
1. It’s virtually impossible to afford living on your own
Many of us dream of the day when we won’t have to deal with the roommate who doesn’t do the dishes or takes too long in the bathroom. Living on your own can be a rewarding experience but when you consider the cost of rent, furniture, utilities and other basic necessities – it can be expensive.
- Compromise on unnecessary features, such as in-suite laundry and underground parking, which could mean lower rent.
- Track your spending. You would be amazed at how much you are spending on iTunes or Starbucks that could go toward rent or other necessities.
- Forgo unnecessary utilities, such as cable and a home phone, to lower the amount that you are spending each month. There’s always Netflix!
2. Your clothing budget is non-existent
You’ve managed to score the interview for your dream internship but realize you have nothing to wear. How are you supposed to make a killer first impression when you can barely afford to buy a new pair of socks?
- Know the peak times for sales – that way, you can stock up on all your wardrobe needs for the year.
- Sign up for your favorite store’s email list to receive special discounts and coupons.
- Shop online for exclusive discounts and items that you won’t find in-store.
3. Fine dining has to be kept at a minimum
If you consider yourself a foodie (or you rarely cook at home), you are probably accustomed to eating at your favorite sushi joint at least a few times per week. These costs quickly add up and before you know it, you are spending more on food than you are on rent.
- Browse the starter options. Most restaurants offer filling starters at almost half of the price of a main course.
- Find restaurants that offer student discounts or special pricing at certain times of the day. You may even want to check out their social media for flash promotions.
- Start writing restaurant reviews for your school paper. Restaurants would benefit from the increased exposure among the university crowd and you could score a free meal!
4. You have to be constantly mindful of your data usage
According to a recent survey, the average iPhone user uses 8.9 GB of data per month, which is probably well over your monthly data limit. Unless you have an unlimited data plan, regularly going over your data limit can easily break your bank account – especially when you are on a student budget.
- This should go without saying but use Wi-Fi whenever possible. Make it a point to check that you are connected before aimlessly browsing the web and coming to the realization that you’ve used over 90% of your data for the month. Even better – just don’t use your phone when you are on the go unless it’s an emergency.
- Turn off iMessage or any other messaging app that uses data and strictly use your unlimited text messages.
- Disable the auto-play video function in the Facebook app.
5. There’s no money to spend on travel
It’s often said that the best time to travel is in your 20s when you likely don’t have responsibilities that you can’t escape. But, with the cost of lights and accommodation, traveling can be difficult for even the best of budgeters.
- Be flexible with your destinations. Choose cities where you have friends to stay with or use Kayak Explore to find the cheapest destinations to fly to.
- Consider all the possible ways to get to your destination before booking a flight. Can you drive or take the train for less money?
- Always check for discounts and special pricing for students from the major airlines in your country. Budget airlines are also always an option.
- Find ways to travel for free! HeySuccess offers many fully-funded conferences, internships, projects and conference in destinations around the world.
6. You can’t afford the latest gadgets and technology
- Trade-in your old gadgets. Some tech stores will buy your old gadgets and allow you to use the money toward a newer model.
- Check for education discounts for students. You can save up to $250 on a new Mac!
- Start a YouTube channel, build a following and do reviews on the latest gadgets. Tech companies will sometimes send you a product to review and you can keep it in exchange for the free promotion.
Living on a student budget can be stressful but with these tips, you may not have to sacrifice as much as you think!
Tell us - what are your best tips for living on a student budget?